Bending Without Breaking

From my point of view, giving up is a nuclear option. If you quit, there’s no turning back. I believe you can find joy in anything you do, and you can regain control even when you feel like burnout has all the power over you.

You or someone you know is probably dealing with that type of disengagement right now, and it’s for that reason, I wanted to bring on a guest who knows the cost of burnout how to overcome it. Today we’re joined by Josh Schneider, who coaches organizations and individuals to increase performance, energy, and happiness. He’s been featured on Under30CEO and the CEOhour, bringing a passion that is contagious, an energy that’s undeniable, and innovative ideas that work in our evolving business climate. His book, Generation NEXTLEVEL, calls on the next generation of leaders to play to their strengths and do work that matters.

To increase the impact of his work, Josh founded The Millennial & Employee Engagement Institute to curate and develop research to help unlock people’s performance and encourage businesses to transfer leadership to the next generation. Josh truly understands the future of the workforce and how to engage it.

The fact of the matter is, you can’t afford your time to the things that burn you out or create undue stress. With Josh’s help, we’re uncovering some great strategies for navigating burnout, rising out of it, and bending without breaking.

Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact, so please share the show with someone you think it may help. We designed this weekly podcast for ambitious Young Professionals and aspiring Leaders who want to stay motivated and keep moving forward. Throughout Season 1, we will be connecting fresh perspectives with practical strategies to help listeners feel empowered all week long. You can help us improve by joining our LinkedIn and Twitter Community by using #IgnitionPoint, submitting a review on Apple Podcasts, or emailing feedback to [email protected].

Josh Schneider Headshot #3

Josh Schneider

Founder, The Millenial & Employee Engagement Institute
FULL TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to Ignition Point – the show that’s here to help you take the leap, conquer your week, and achieve your goals. If you’re looking to amplify your mindset with a fresh perspective and spark your momentum – you’re in the right place.

Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller. Thanks for joining me for another Ignition Point – the show where we cover an influential speech or feature a Guest Keynote to get you fired up and ready to take on another winning week.

The other day, I was reading an article in Forbes by Celinne da Costa that talked about our global hustle culture, and why we need to stop idolizing it. Just off the title, I was interested because – as you know – I’m all about jumping into the deep end and grinding it out. It’s almost a spiritual experience to me at this point, but to say it’s idolized may be a stretch. Anyway, I found that one point from the article stood out. It was a reminder we all need from time to time.

Celinne wrote that society has effectively committed to the get up, eat, work, eat, work, eat, Netflix, sleep, and repeat schedule that is synonymous with “getting caught up in the hustle.” Her point is that if we get into this hustling cycle where all we’re working for is that feeling of, “man, I really got shit done today,” we end up sacrificing self-care and we eventually burn out.

It’s a great point, but it returns to something I discussed earlier in the season. You can’t really hustle without having the big picture in view. You need to take inventory with yourself and ask, “What am I actually working towards? What is the big ambition?” I’d even argue that hustle without an attached ambition isn’t even hustle at all. Getting fulfillment from the daily directive of “get more shit done,” is a silent killer because you won’t know that you’re getting burnt out, you’ll only ever know when you are burnt out.

You or someone you know is probably dealing with that type of disengagement right now, and it’s for that reason, I wanted to bring on a guest who knows the cost of burnout how to overcome it. So, on today’s episode, I’m excited to welcome Josh Schneider. Josh coaches organizations and individuals to increase performance, energy, and happiness. His book, Generation NEXTLEVEL, calls on the next generation of leaders to play to their strengths and do work that matters.

To increase the impact of his work, Josh founded The Millennial & Employee Engagement Institute to curate and develop research to help unlock people’s performance and encourage businesses to transfer leadership to the next generation. Josh truly understands the future of the workforce and how to engage it.

He’s been featured on Under30CEO and the CEOhour, bringing a passion that is contagious, an energy that’s undeniable, and innovative ideas that work in our evolving business climate.

So, Let’s get after it! Here to give you the tools needed to beat burnout, this is Josh Schneider.

THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE WITH JOSH SCHNEIDER

So, what does burnout look like? And how do we avoid it? How do we overcome the obstacles? Burnout – to me – looks like when the history of our past is brighter than the vision of our future.

Or said another way – burnout is when we are applying an effort and the return that we are getting back does not meet our expectations. Meaning, we go to the gym, I expect my body to look a certain way. I start to eat differently, I expect my body to respond, and when it does, I am excited, and I will continue to put that effort in.

But if I go to school to get a degree and I keep struggling to finish the classes that I need to. Or if I'm trying to work to put myself through a situation or start a business and it's not working out for me, that's when I start to break down. That's when we start to experience burnout.

How do we structure ourselves in such a way that we can avoid the burnout? And I think that burnout has that one side where the return is less than our effort, but burnout also has another side, and it's in being out of alignment.

I once had a mentor say to me, “Josh, you'll never have any success in your assignment until you are first in alignment.” But how is it that we can find a way to persevere? How is it that we can find a way to stay on the track? And I think that there's a couple of solutions or ideas that – over the years – I have been able to learn and see work for me and other high performers that I've joined on this journey to getting what it is that you want to accomplish. Seeing who you can become – and first, is this: to find a way to stack momentum outside of that main effort.

So, for example, you're trying to start a business. You're pouring yourself into that. Same thing if you have a new role or you start with a new company, you're pouring yourself into that.

Trying to learn what you don't know. Trying to figure out what we don't know. And all of a sudden six months, twelve, eighteen months go by and we wake up and we feel tired, we feel disengaged, and we feel frustrated with the process.

Either your business isn't where you want it to be or school is taking longer than you thought it should, and you have this other thing. So when you're frustrated, you can get another return. You can look around and say, “but you know what? This is also happening for me,” and a lot of times it's all the spark we need to get back on track because time is going to pass.

And this is not hedging your bets. This is not saying, “well, the thing that I want is not the thing that I'm going after,” but it's creating an alternative source of momentum for you.

Another thing is to do the unusual. One of the reasons so many people burn out is that they're heads down doing one thing over and over and over. I feel like you read article about it and it'll say, “go to Fiji for 10 days,” and that's fantastic, if you can spend the $15,000 to $20,000 to go to Fiji for 10 days.
But part of burnout is boredom. It's repetition.

Human Nature, it craves excitement. It craves change. And so if we're going to find a way to be resilient, find a way to be persistent, and grind through whatever it is that we're going after without burning out, it could come down to being as simple as trying a new restaurant that's out of the norm.

Now, I've come to appreciate that certain routines and patterns are healthy and are necessary, but when we're saying, “how do I beat this? How do I not quit?” We have to find a way to do something unusual. We need to let our brain breathe in a new experience.

Burnout happens when repeatable patterns in our lives become louder than what we believe we are fighting for. Burnout never just happens. It's something that's slowly working its way into our life.

I think sometimes on our journey to getting what it is that we want, we have a value that is important to us that becomes violated. And if I were to sit down with you and say, “okay, what are the top five values to you?” We would all have a different list; a different experience.

I woke up one day – actually it was the middle of a day – and feeling very frustrated. My business had never been in a better position. Yet here I was, frustrated, and then it dawned on me. My client work had become a source of constriction – of constraint on my life.

When I feel like I have freedom, I feel like I can endure anything. When I feel like that freedom is taken away from me, the questions start to circulate in my mind.

“Why am I doing this? Why am I going after this? Why am I trying to achieve something?” You begin to doubt what's in your mind. You begin to doubt that the thing that you once saw so clearly, was even worthwhile.

No, no. I didn't fire all my clients and I didn't say like, “screw this, I'm, I'm outta here!” No. What I began to do was to tell myself that I have freedom. I started to scan my days and look for places and times in ways that I did have freedom, where I could flex that freedom. I printed out some signs around me that said, “I have freedom.” “I am free.” And “I am choosing this journey,” because I am!

The reason I'm in this position is because I'm choosing it. And it's okay to bend. It's okay to feel the pressure of a situation, but we don't break. And that's the number one piece of how we avoid the burnout.

If we're not willing to see that we are bending, if we're not willing to acknowledge that the pressure is on – that the heat is on – that this does not feel like how I want it to feel, then we avoid the ability to change in the process. We avoid the ability to switch things up. We avoid the ability to say which value is being violated, but you've got to find a way to build the inner resilience. To be saying to yourself, “it's okay to vent. It's okay to feel the pressure. It's okay to be under attack, but I will not break. I won't let myself get to that point.”

So, some questions that we can ask ourselves when we're in that situation of bending – when we're feeling like the pressure is on – we can say, “since I can imagine this, can I actually believe that it's possible for me?”

Another question we can say is, “do I have the capacity to overcome whatever obstacles I face?”

Because the reality is, we don't know what kind of obstacles we're going to face, but if we tell ourselves, “I have the capacity to overcome,” we can do it.

And the last question we need to ask ourselves is, “am I clear that the weight of discipline is ounces, while the weight of regret is tons?”

See burnout happens in the margins. We don't just wake up one day and we made one decision. It was one decision after another after another. And if we could attack the margin – the margin of our time – to find ways to rebuild ourselves, to stack that momentum outside of our main achievement. If we can just find a way, find the time to do the unusual, to switch up the pattern, to bring excitement, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin into our system. If we can make sure that our major values are not being violated, we can do it.

My friends, I believe that each and every one of us has this ability to achieve the desires that are in our heart and in our mind. And if we don't quit – if we can persevere – if we can develop the tenacity to see things through, we avoid the burnout. And if we're constantly asking ourselves those questions – in the long game – we will win.

STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS

I love the way Josh applies such high voltage to this topic, especially when it’s so much more than just a feeling of exhaustion.

Burnout is a feeling of perpetual fatigue and surpassing burnout when you’re in the thick of it is not easy. Frankly, burnout is just one consequence of how busy we are. And while I talk a lot on this show about being all-in – showing that attitude of hustle – burnout is a reality we all have to deal with at some point in our lives and there is no common cure for it. The way we overcome it has to be a personalized solution.

And I’m not disputing Josh – not even for a second. Perseverance, stacking momentum, and being in alignment with our values are all absolutely essential to winning the war on burnout. I just believe that when we burn out, we have to identify the source of our burnout and then begin to recondition our thinking.

But, that’s really hard to do! The cause of our burnout is often so close to our faces that we can’t really see what’s causing it. We can be blind to the source because we grow to have a sense of familiarity in our environment. Consider this story:

A gentleman is walking through an elephant camp, and he noticed that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages. All that kept them from escaping was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.

As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was confused as to why the elephants didn’t just break the rope and escape the camp. It would’ve been easily done, but instead they didn’t try to at all.

Wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer why the elephants never tried to escape. The trainer replied, “when they’re young, we use the same size rope to hold them. As they grow up, they believe it can still hold them.”

The moral of the story is, the longer you’re in an environment, the more your vision can be obscured and the more burnt out you can become. You have to continue to believe what you’re doing has purpose and why you’re doing it is valuable. Believing you can succeed is arguably the most important step toward achieving your goals.

So, if you’re too familiar in your environment and you can’t quite tell why you’re burnt out, that’s where you need to start. Where does your burnout come from? This is the multiple-choice part of the show.

Your options include:

A. It’s Personal – Burnout that is commonly associated with negative self-talk caused by perfectionism and self-critical tendencies.

B. It’s Interpersonal – Relationship-based fatigue, like strain in the relationships you have with authority figures in your life or your superiors.

C. It’s Organizational – Exhaustion linked to a mismatch in values between you and the group or groups you belong to.

Once you figure out where it stems from, you’re able to make changes and modify the factors that are burning you out. To me that all begins by shaking things up just like Josh had mentioned. You’ve got to make some little tweaks and changes that can make that familiar environment a little less comfortable and familiar.

Try creating a new daily ritual to remove yourself from whatever it is that’s burning you out. Carve out a fifteen-minute break and go for a walk. Add fifteen minutes of reading into your schedule. Find something to do that affords you the time to recharge and break the pattern.

I’ve said it on prior episodes – I’m not one for the zen-lifestyle. Personally, I go to the gym to recharge, but if it’s going to help you to meditate or do yoga, then that’s what you need to do. You just need to find a way to have your mind actively engaged, but one or more steps removed from the cause of your exhaustion.

From this point, you know what is causing the burnout and you’ve got a new coping strategy that’ll help you to recharge, the last thing I’d recommend is reprioritizing your daily activities.

Again - not so easy - but what you need to do is look at all the things you’re doing on a daily basis, itemize them, and for each task on your list, ask yourself if they contribute toward the ambitions or dreams your working to fulfill. What’s the big picture? Is the juice really worth the squeeze? Is that part of your daily grind really contributing to your end goal?

Former Navy SealDavid Goggins – said, “When your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you’re exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any farther, you’re only 40% done.”

How fired up are you about the end goal? Is it worth going the extra 60% the way? It needs to be.

If a daily task on your list – or even the entire list – doesn’t register as a priority for achieving your ambition, then you need to start prioritizing different tasks that will push you toward achieving it. You can’t afford your time to the things that burn you out or create stress.

Hopefully, you’re not currently dealing with burnout and you can be mindful of the advice Josh gave for resisting burnout. You need to be able to persevere; you need to create alternate sources of momentum in your life, and you have to align your work with your priorities. You’ve got to have these strategies on lockdown if you ever feel burnout creeping into your life.

But if you are presently dealing with burnout, you can overcome it. You can rise up and out from underneath the weight of burnout by first figuring out where it comes from, then creating a daily ritual that will help you recharge, and finally reprioritizing your agenda.

From my point of view, giving up is a nuclear option. If you quit, there’s no turning back. I believe you can find joy in anything you do, and you can regain control even when you feel like burnout has all the power over you.

Don’t ever forget this: Burnout is a temporary problem, and you can beat it. So, don’t ever choose a permanent solution for a temporary problem.

I’d like to thank Josh Schneider for taking the time to contribute to this week’s show. If you’re interested in learning more about Josh or want to get in touch, you can visit JoshSchneider.com.

As a special gift for fans of the show, Josh has made his book, 5 Days to Your Best Work Yet available for free as a downloadable eBook. It’s a great read for anyone looking for a fresh approach to making their work better a more effective.

To claim your free copy, head over to EmployeeBrain.com to download yours today.

If you’d like easy access to all of Josh’s coaching resources and ways to connect with him, please check out all of his links featured in this episode’s Show Notes at DecisiveLeap.com/IgnitionPoint.

Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact, so please share the show with someone you think it would help. Your feedback helps Ignition Point to keep moving forward, so send me an email to [email protected] or write a review for the show on Apple Podcasts to let me know what you think.

The next time you think about quitting, focus on why you started.

Then, stay motivated and keep moving forward. If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.

I’ll look forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.

Now get on out there and win the week!

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